I Boycott World Fantasy

w h pugmire esq

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#1
It's very strange that, as a Lovecraftian artist, I almoft feel personally maim'd by the decision of World Fantasy to "retire" the Howie award due to complaints concerning H. P. Lovecraft as trophy icon. Some have try'd to dismiss ye relevance of the award, but I cannot do so--I consider it an important award for any writer fortunate enough to win it. I do not know the history of the Howie, or why E'ch-Pi-El was chosen as the figure of its trophy bust--perhaps it happen'd because the first World Fantasy Convention was held in Providence, Rhode Island, and was in some sense an acknowledgement of Lovecraft's excellence as genre writer.

World Fantasy has always been, for me, the finest gathering of genre professionals that I have experienced. This shews a taint of snobbery on my part--I love the convention because it is not a fan convention but rather one concerning professionalism in writing, editing, publishing, illustration, &c &c. The greatest thing, for me, about being a writer is getting lost in the work of writing, be it short story, novella, or constructing a new collection. Thus when I attend WFC, I always feel that I am surrounded by persons who also admire and relish the work, whatever our personal task may be.

My work is the writing of Lovecraftian weird fiction, and that is probably why I feel the discontinuation of ye Howie on such a personal level. I don't expect others to share my feelings on this, and indeed I suspect that ye majority of persons here will applaud getting rid of ye Lovecraft trophy and replacing it with something else. I consider Lovecraft an excellent writer, and I read his weird fantasy fiction continuously--I am now doing a very careful and gradual reading of his entire oeuvre in the three handsome volumes of H. P. Lovecraft: Collected Fiction--A Variorum Edition recently publish'd in handsome hardcover editions by Hippocampus Press. It is because Lovecraft wrote in all categories of genre fiction--science fiction, fantasy & horror--that I feel he is uniquely qualify'd to stand as trophy icon for an award.

Opinion of Lovecraft's writing will always vary. S. T. Joshi spent a lot of time writing blogs that discuss'd S. T.'s reasons for considering H. P. Lovecraft one of American's greatest writers; but those blogs didn't convince a lot of people, and many found S. T.'s tone condescending and irritating. Lovecraft's grotesque racism has caused the discussion to get rather emotionally heated at times. I acknowledge that my own response to the banning of the Howie is an emotional response. I will no longer have anything to do with World Fantasy. If the unlikely happens and one of my books is slated for the award, I will insist that my book be removed from the ballot. As a personal response, I will be dedicating my forthcoming collection from Centipede Press to ye memory of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Esq.

My eldritch kisses to all.

yr obt Srvt,
W. Hopfrogious Pugnatious, Esq.
 

w h pugmire esq

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#3
I wish to add that this is my personal action, not one that I advocate of others. I'm not calling for an official boycott of WFC. There seems to be a movement against H. P. Lovecraft from some who feel that his influence of genre writing has been over-emphasized. The sentiment seems to be that we "must move beyond H. P. Lovecraft", whatever that means. I shall not be moving beyond his influence, just the opposite. However, I completely understand that persons of color (a phrase that I dislike but I cannot think of another in this emotional moment) would not want a trophy representing an abhorrent racist in their homes. My dismay concerning this situation is that it signals a disdaining of Lovecraft as writer. Some people who advocated the change seem now to be crowing as if they have rid the world of Lovecraft and his influence. This will have no effect whatsoever on the world-wide growth of Lovecraft's fame and book sales. Okay, I need to silence myself and chill out.
 

Ray McCarthy

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#4
Personally now that I've started reading HPL for the first time, I'm baffled by the enthusiasm for him.

But I'd have not thought his writing racist for 1928 USA. IMO "People of Color" is more racist description than HPL's description. Was he supposed to make up terms that no-one else used in 1928?

IMO POC is stupid American label, as is African-Amercan, Irish-American, Italian-American or any Hyphanated American, or Latino, or WASP, or Hispanic, all those perpetuate racial division. True colour blindness means Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino or POC labels are never applied. They are useless stereotypes. You might refer to a PARTICULAR person as the pale skinned redhead, or the olive complexioned dark haired girl (an 100% Irish person I know) or the short very dark girl with braids (another girl I know).

But these shifting "politically correct" names for a vague ethnic group and then castigating someone in an earlier era for using the well known terms of their era is plain bonkers, totally daft!
 

Brian G Turner

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#5
I have to admit being really surprised there was a HPL statue for the World Fantasy Award in the first place - HPL is usually seen as specific to the sub-genre of horror, rather than a symbol of world fantasy in general.

Is there any suggestion of what might replace it? I presume a busy of Tolkien would be equally criticised.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#7
If you get further into his works, Ray, you will see much more of his racism. And it's not all of it the sort of casual racism you might see in some Americans of the time (they didn't all think and speak the same back then, you know). The way he spoke of people not of the white race was sometimes quite venomous.

As for the quality of his work, I'd say it was uneven. At its best it was sublime. At its worst, unimpressive.
 

Ray McCarthy

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#8
At its worst, unimpressive
So far tedious and repetitive. I may not read much more. It was research and I now know what I wanted to know. I don't read horror any more, not since about 1969 or maybe 1971.

The Hebert West Reanimator was like bad copy of Frankenstein's monster, repetitive. Call of Cthulhu tedious. Perhaps I underestimated any underlying racism in that one.

I've read four of them.

I'll take your word for it about the racism, even apart from that, an HPL themed trophy for Fantasy award seems odd.
 
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w h pugmire esq

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#9
I am slowly rereading all of Lovecraft's fiction in the handsome Variorum editions, and enjoying this excellent fiction more than ever. Lovecraft's tales are never tedious or repetitive, even when he revisits themes, such as when "Dagon" was expanded as "The Call of Cthulhu". The prose style can, at times, seem wild, as it does in moments in "The Lurking Fear"; and yet this wildness is reflective of the mental state of the narrator, and I find that it enhances the mood of the tale. The brilliance of a story such as "The Colour Out of Space" has never been surpass'd, and the prose of that spectacular tale is near to perfection. These three Variorum editions are fascinating, in that they record all varients to be found in the Lovecraft texts. Fantastic!
 

Ray McCarthy

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#10
I have 10 stories, cheap paperback edition "The Best of H.P. Lovecraft", reduced in price €18.99 to €9.99. Published 2012, 1st Published 2019
Prion, imprint of Carlton Publishing.
I may read a couple more sometime. The bookshop also had two versions of Complete Works, both hardback and about €37, but I couldn't justify that.
 

w h pugmire esq

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#11
I have 10 stories, cheap paperback edition "The Best of H.P. Lovecraft", reduced in price €18.99 to €9.99. Published 2012, 1st Published 2019
Prion, imprint of Carlton Publishing.
I may read a couple more sometime. The bookshop also had two versions of Complete Works, both hardback and about €37, but I couldn't justify that.
I believe that moft of Lovecraft's fiction may be read for free online.
 

steelyglint

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#12
"The Best of H.P. Lovecraft", reduced in price €18.99 to €9.99. Published 2012, 1st Published 2019
Interesting time-travelling tome you found yourself there. Maybe it wasn't actually reduced, but expected to increase in price over the seven years until its 'first' publication. ;)

.
 

Ray McCarthy

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#15
I believe that moft of Lovecraft's fiction may be read for free online.
There is very little at Gutenberg. It should be all out of copyright, so I was surprised they didn't.
I'd bet the Penguin and Prion editions don't pay any royalties. The Prion Edition copyright is certainly only the layout and illustrations.
 

WaylanderToo

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#16
it is an interesting conundrum - applying today's values to people of the past. IIRC Abe Lincoln would be vilified as a vile racist were today's standards to be applied.... although he did not believe in slavery that was, apparently, as much due to politics/economics as anything else. He also had real issues with inter-racial relationships. Now does that mean he was a horrible racist or does that mean he was still a, for the time, visionary who deserves to be feted for his accomplishments?

One of the issues facing us today is the rise of the SJW and their desire to shout-down any dissenting views. They are really of the "... if you're not 100% with us, you are against us..." mindset no discussion, no context nothing black/white no shades..... idiots :(
 

Teresa Edgerton

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#17
One of the issues facing us today is the rise of the SJW and their desire to shout-down any dissenting views. They are really of the "... if you're not 100% with us, you are against us..." mindset no discussion, no context nothing black/white no shades..... idiots
Hmmm. Calling people idiots seldom makes them eager to listen or exchange ideas. Terms like social justice warriors are by their nature dismissive, and are hardly an invitation to civil debate. Name-calling never is.

But to return to the topic at hand. How much do you know about Lovecraft's views on race? Enough to claim they were typical for his time? I've read most of his stories, and that is not my impression. They strike me as extreme even for 1928.
 

Toby Frost

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#19
Lovecraft was certainly behind, say, H Rider Haggard in terms of race. But Haggard (a Victorian, too) had lived in Africa. Personally, I see Lovecraft’s racism as another form of the sense of deep unhealthiness I get from his stories: the neurotic heroes, the lack of normal family life (even baser human emotions like greed and lust don’t get much of a mention), the sense of most of the world being awful and degenerate and barely worth going into (which isn’t quite a fair reflection of Lovecraft himself – not quite). It’s all very sickly (and not in a sugary-sweet way!). But then, without that, would it be Lovecraft? If the racism and neurosis wasn’t there, would stories like "The Shadow over Innsmouth" have been written? That said, take out all the blatant stuff – the anti-Jews and anti-blacks stuff, and leave in all the anti-fishmen bits, I don’t think you’d lose anything. But of course that raises other issues about the rightness of messing with a text.

Besides, I think this raises more complex issues than just Lovecraft: the man and his racism. Does his work have sufficient influence? Is the fact that he was a pioneer important? His work is influential, but in quite a subtle way. Alien, say, owes a lot to him, but (for the best) there are no forbidden tomes or mad cults or anything like that. His influence is also probably disproportionate to the quantity and quality of his work, in the way that an obscure band who only release one album might create a sound later taken up by much more successful groups, in a more polished and commercial way.

My own feeling on Lovecraft, basically, is a lot like my feeling towards the Rolling Stones: there are enough excellent songs for a great compiliation album or two, but a lot of songs that sound like a less-good version of the really good ones. And you can’t deny that the Stones were influential (also, they appear to be ageless and fuelled by strange drugs, but that’s beside the point).
 

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